Most conflicts frequently occur in the workplace. Incompatibility between individuals usually stems from conflicts involving task interdependence, conflict styles, and communication problems. Tensions can especially be heightened when a family is involved in the mix. This is due to all the different factors that influence situations. For instance, there are a number of conflict styles conflicts such as obliging, integrating, compromising, avoiding, and dominating that can either improve or worsen conflicts depending on how or when they are used (Joyce L. Hocker, 2014)Now, each individual has his/her own preferred conflict style to resolve situations and not every style will be effective in every conflict situation. To enhance the effectiveness of conflict resolution efforts, it is absolutely crucial for an office as a whole and individual parties to be aware of the short and long-term goals for both the task involved. Individuals must be aware of different factors such as their involvement and emotions in the conflict. With so many factors affecting conflict management the question is if now knowing that there are different factors that influence conflict in the workplace; is it possible to involve family relationships in the mix? We are going to discuss an ongoing conflict that is occurring at my office at the moment where fifty percent of the employees are family members.
I currently work for a private dental office that has a very interesting dynamic. I came from a large corporate company where I was managing a very profitable office. I did very well, however, I could see that corporate office was making big changes and removing entire positions without giving employees time to prepare. They also weren’t compensation their employees what they should have and required a lot of paperwork to be done on your own time. Having learned quite a bit in the three years of being a part of the company and had moved as high as I wanted in the office, I decided it was time for a change. I wanted to change to a slower pace so that I could have the opportunity to finish school while working. I soon came across a position opening at the dental office I am currently at now. I accepted the position and started immediately. I soon learned that the majority of the employees were related. The office manager was the daughter, the head of marketing was the son, and the co-owner was the husband of the doctor. I had many fears that I was going to be an outsider since the remaining employees have been at the office for over five years. Slowly I was able to find my rhythm and also realize the dynamics in the office. The office manager and marketing head didn’t refer to the Doctor as “mom”, they kept their communication as professional and didn’t use their position to manipulate situations. However, even today I see time at times I can see how they are able to gray some situations that at another office they may be able to get away. For example, I completely understand that when you have children you have to leave work and tend to their needs, but I think after you calling out four days in a row and the previous week three days that at other jobs you would have to find someone to take care of them. Now, I have been with the office for almost two years, and I can truly say that example before doesn’t occur as often as before; but now I have a new conflict.
I am currently in the position of being strictly in charge of billing, insurance, collections, and credentials whereas before I was a front office administrator. The woman replacing me in the front is the sister-in-law of the office manager, the wife of the head of marketing, and the daughter-in-law of the Doctor. At the beginning of training her she seemed very eager to learn and take over the position, but now I am seeing a sense of entitlement set in. With the position of the office manager and marketing head, I was aware of that most likely they got their job because of Nepotism, but I have to realize they earned the position. In the case of my replacement, I am seeing that she may have just gotten it because of her connections. It’s not a farfetched idea to think that nepotism is a factor since it is the act of providing or receiving opportunities due to a family relationship or friendship (Sun, 2017)
There have been various situations, she has made a clear point to remind me and others in the office that she is related to the doctor. She is the middle of training and she has tried to manage her coworkers by telling them how to do their job. Also, when explaining different tasks that I was doing and now have to be done just immediately states that she doesn’t believe that is her job and refuses to comply. Now her direct personality could very well just be irritating me, but I also don’t feel comfortable to confront the situations how I normally would have in the past due to her relationship with my boss. I understand the struggle of mixing business with family; however, “in order for the family business to develop into an excellent company they need to inculcate certain rules, practices, and philosophy (UK Essays, 2015)At the same time, they need to balance and maintain a good relationship among the family and employees.
Looking at the conflict from another perspective I can see that my communication or lack of could very well be worsening the situation. Verbal and non-verbal communication is a very important tool that must be used in every situation. I realize the need to express not only my feelings but also my expectations for in the workplace.
You could say that most people in this day and age communicate using electronics or similar channels. Therefore, it could be that she is also finding it very hard to really get to understand why her method of expressing herself could come across aggressive. In the workplace, people used to walk around to get answers to situations, but now everything is e-mailed or impersonal. I prefer the old-fashioned way which was management by walking around and talking to the staff face to face. I this would be a really good way to build a rapport with her fellow co-workers.
Another aspect that is starting to become more evident is the Conflict Style that we use. Looking into the conflicts and situations that have occurred in with my replacement I realized that we use very different conflict styles. I see that she is very dominating in the way she addresses issues or even speaks in general. She has a tendency to demand what she wants. Even she is “asking” in reality it is more like ordering. As I’ve taken my course in conflict management my conflict style is a combination of compromising and integrating (Joyce L. Hocker, 2014). When you use two completely different conflict styles in a situation, it can at times make a situation worse. “Coercive strategies violate standard guidelines for ethical communication and may include aggressive communication. (University of Minnesota, 2013)
For example, I could be trying to compromise on the fact I can see why can’t confirm all the patients by eleven a.m.; which is why I suggest her get it done by One p.m. Her response was an aggressive and hard no, stating that she didn’t think that she could make any calls at since she was too busy with the in and outflow of patients. I found her argument ridicules since I had been doing her position and other tasks and still managed to get the calls done. What I found frustrating wasn’t her thought process, but the fact that she was uncompromising to even discuss solutions in how she should try to complete the task. Her response afterward that she will talk to the office manager and doctor to make sure that she doesn’t have to confirm patients. Fortunately, neither one of them agreed with her.
Overall I am currently still trying to find the best method of interacting with my new co-worker. Looking back to the various conflicts a factor from Uncertainty Reduction Theory is evident which states, “the increase in uncertainty level produces decreases in liking; decrease in uncertainty level produce increases in liking” (Neuliep, 2012)I know that most of this conflict is has to be coming from the lack of communication, uncertainty, and understanding. Which can be solved if I took a moment to reflect on what the issues truly are, not take offense, and create a supportive climate rather than a defensive one. I need to remember to be patient and remember the tools conflict management I learned as a manager years prior. This conflict reflection has allowed me to really take a look at the issues at hand, and now I have a strategy in how to fix my conflicts at work. I trust that once I start utilizing the techniques and conflict models explained in Interpersonal Conflicts that I will be able to build a productive relationship with my co-worker.
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